Tag Archives: how-to

Portobello or Chicken Pot Pie

22 Jan

Recipe Source: Adapted from allrecipes.com

For my first recipe of 2011 – albeit a bit tardy – I want to share with you my last meal of 2010. (Boy, that sounds morbid!) After New Year’s Eve plans with friends fell through and our enthusiasm for celebrating increasingly waned, the prospect of staying in with a home-cooked meal and fire in the fake electric fireplace became increasingly attractive. We decided to perfect our pot pie-making skills.

I originally made a portobello version of this pie for a group of my best friends, which includes a vegetarian. But the recipe can easily be adapted for meat-eaters by substituting chicken and chicken stock for the portobello caps and vegetable stock.

I also made a number of modifications based on consistent reviews from allrecipes, such as increasing the amount of flour for the gravy, using stock in place of water, and adding a splash of wine. The proportions here are half of what they were in the original recipe, since we made two pies with it!

filling pot pie

Part I: Make your own crust. It’s worth it.

My go-to recipe for crust is David’s go-to recipe, which he and his mother have perfected after years of baking amazing apple tarts. If you’re pressed for time, the crust can be made partially or entirely overnight.

Are you ready for the Golden Proportion?

200g all-purpose flour
100g cold butter (or 1 stick)
100g cold water

This will make enough crust to fill the bottom of an 11-inch tart pan. For the pot pie, which uses a 9-inch pie dish and needs a top and bottom crust, we used 1.5 times the recipe, so 300g flour, 1.5 sticks butter and 150g of water. (Yes, you need a scale. Every real cook should have one, and if you want to make your own crust, you are a real cook! :))

There are a couple of ways to accomplish mixing the dough together. The easiest method is to beat the flour and butter in a food processor while slowly pouring in the water. Be careful not to overbeat the butter – coarse crumbs will result in a flaky dough. It’s better to undermix than overmix, at this stage.

Or, for a more “rustic” method, you can cut the butter into the flour in a large bowl using a pastry cutter then form a well in the center, pour in the water, and continue mashing the flour mixture to incorporate. Note: you’ll want to avoid using your hands during this process, as their warmth will melt the butter and reduce the flakiness of the finished crust. And when it comes to crust, it’s good to be flaky!

Form a ball with the dough and turn it out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Flatten the ball into a disk, wrap it tightly, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or overnight. Then remove the dough from the fridge and, on a smooth, floured surface, roll it into a thin strip, about 5 inches wide, 10 inches long and 1/2-inch thick. (If the dough has been chilling overnight, let it sit out for about 5 minutes so it will be easier to work with.)

rollling dough

Fold the top and bottom ends over to meet in the center, then fold in half. Roll the dough out again, repeating this process twice. You’ll want to do this step quickly, so the butter does not melt. Wrap the dough again and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

folding dough

At this point, preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Finish the crust with one more round of rolling and folding, then cut 1/2 off the end to save for your top crust. Wrap and refrigerate this portion.

cutting dough

Roll the dough into a thin disk large enough to fill your pie dish on the bottom and up the sides. When the dough is about the size you want, let it “relax” for a minute or two. The dough will shrink slightly, then you can roll it a second time. You don’t want it shrinking in your pie dish!

Finally, fold the disk into quarters (a dough scraper can be a great help with this, if you have one, otherwise use the thinnest scraper you have) and place it in the pie dish. Unfold the dough and gently adjust it as needed to evenly fill the dish.

quartered dough

Lightly prick the bottom of the dough with a fork. Cut a piece of parchment paper (not wax!) into a circle the size of the bottom of your pie dish, and place it onto the dough. Over that, pour enough pie weights to cover the parchment paper. Large, raw beans such as black or pinto are great to use as pie weights and inexpensive – but avoid small legumes such as lentils, and especially avoid popcorn!

pie weights

Bake the crust for 15 minutes, remove the parchment paper and weights, and bake for another 3 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Part II: Make the filling.

To make the filling, start by boiling three potatoes. I like red potatoes for this, but you can use any kind you like. (If they are larger, account for the difference by using two.) Lightly steam the peas, if frozen. If you are making a chicken pot pie, lightly salt and pepper both sides of a chicken breast, and cook through in a pan over medium-low heat. Cut into bite-size pieces and set the meat aside for later.

potatoes

Next, chop the onions, celery, carrots, and shiitake and portobello mushrooms (if using). I like everything in this pie to be a fairly fine dice, slightly smaller than bite-sized.

veggies

Saute the carrots and celery for about five minutes, then add in the all remaining veggies except portobello mushrooms and saute another 5-8 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste. If you’re making the portobello version of this pie, add the portobellos last. Otherwise, add in the chicken here. To make the gravy, whisk the flour into the stock and wine in a medium bowl, then pour into the vegetables and stir to incorporate everything. Finally, pour the filling into your pre-baked pie crush.

pot pie filling

Remove the reserved dough from the refrigerator, roll it into a disc large enough to overlap your pie dish by about one inch on all sides, and gently drape the dough over the pie.

baked pot pie

Part III: Bake, eat.

Bake for 40 minutes in a 350-degree oven, until the crust is golden brown. Then chow down on that baby!

pie slice

RECIPE – Portobello or Chicken Pot Pie

For crust:
300g all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold butter
150g cold water
OR 2 (9 inch) unbaked pie crusts

For the filling:
3 small red potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup sliced onion
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, cubed
1/2 cup thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms (or a blend)
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 cup white wine
2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 portobello mushroom cap or 1 small chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
1/2 cup peas
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 teaspoon fresh oregano
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Press one of the pie crusts into and up the sides of a 9 inch pie plate. Prick holes into crust with a fork, cover with parchment paper and Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain, and cut into cubes. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan over low heat. Add onion, celery, carrot, and shiitake mushrooms, cover, and let the mushrooms sweat for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Whisk flour into stock and pour mixture along with wine and soy sauce into saucepan. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer.

Heat remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add portobello or chicken pieces and sauté briefly until mushrooms are browned on the outside or chicken is cooked through. Add to the gravy mixture along with the peas and potatoes. Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with thyme, oregano, salt and pepper.

Pour the mixture into the prepared crust. Cover with the other pie crust, and crimp edges to seal. Make a few slits in the top crust to vent steam.

Bake for 40 minutes in the preheated oven, until crust is golden brown.

Advertisements

Saffron Risotto with Butternut Squash

6 Dec

Recipe source: Barefoot Contessa Family Style

Part of the beauty of this cookbook, for me, is Ina’s advice and small observations on entertaining. The idea of “family style” permeates through the book, with comforting recipes like the chicken noodle soup I posted yesterday, fun snacks for kids, and then, especially – quotes like this, which expand the definition of family to one that resonates with me:

“Most people wouldn’t bat an eye about asking their sister to help with dinner, so why are we so reluctant to ask the friends we invite to our house? Wouldn’t you be flattered if a friend said ‘I’d love it!’ when you offered to help? I’d feel valued and part of the A team. When my friends come for dinner, often I serve the main course, but I’ll ask someone else to pour the wine, and a third person to help me with dessert, so we’re all in it together. It’s a community, it’s collaborative, and it’s so much more fun (not to mention easier!).”
I chose to share this quote with you now because risotto requires A LOT of stirring. A lot, a lot, a lot. And Ina brilliantly suggests enlisting your friends to take turns stirring the risotto, preferably with a drink sloshing in the other hand (oh wait, that was my addition), which I think I will do if I ever make this dish again.

Like yesterday’s post, risotto is yet another classic dish I’ve never made. I’ve never been a fan of risotto because of its mushy texture, but the other ingredients in this dish sounded so delicious that I decided to re-open my mind.

The most important lesson I took from making it is that it takes patience. It takes a lot of time. And did I mention – a lot of stirring?

To begin, you will cube and roast a whole 2-lb butternut squash. This is the first recipe I made with butternut, and I discovered that it’s not fun to peel. Not nearly as fun as just throwing the whole thing in the oven until it gets soft, like in this soup.

butternut squash

But there are advantages to this method, specifically, a less mushy, mashed texture. It might be possible to get away with a mash in this recipe… but this time I followed Ina’s instructions. Through trial and error, I found the easiest way to peel this was to cut a flat end and wiggle the vegetable peeler from the top-down. Which doesn’t mean I didn’t break my peeler the second time I did this… so use a very sharp peeler, and go slowly.

peeling butternut squash

While the squash is in the oven, you’ll saute pancetta and shallots in a Dutch oven or the heaviest-bottomed pan you have. Normally when I read this kind of instruction, I am blasé… but with risotto, I wouldn’t mess around. The heat has to be *just right* for this to work, and the cast iron in Dutch ovens will hold the heat more evenly than the type of no-account flimsy Teflon nonsense I own. I borrowed this Dutch oven, which I think would make Ina proud!

Next you’ll add arborio rice and wine, then saffron, salt and pepper, then ladle by ladle, chicken stock. Ina gives very specific instructions on this so I won’t elaborate, except to show you this picture, which I took to be “a little dry” like she describes.

risotto

My final product was also like the “gluey mess” she describes… but tasty. In hindsight, I think medium heat was too low, and medium-high would have been fine. She says you need to make this twice to get it right, and I’m convinced!

I love pears, and I try to eat as many as humanly possible while they are beautiful and yellow in the Fall. So to complete our meal, I served the risotto with Ina Garten’s Endive, Pear, and Roquefort Salad. Since I don’t have a house in the Hamptons, I substituted a common man’s blue cheese for the roquefort. Otherwise, I followed the recipe exactly. This is definitely a favorite… also nice over romaine.

pear salad

And for dessert, I made spiced roasted plums with vanilla bean ice cream.

spiced plums

This was about as autumnal a meal as I could dream up!

RECIPE – Saffron Risotto with Butternut Squash

I used to avoid risotto because I thought you had to stand by the stove for hours, stirring – not exactly my style! But, I decided to give it a try and, instead, found a dish that’s so delicious and cooks in 30 minutes. Test this first on your family and then when you have a party, you can invite your guests into the kitchen for drinks while everyone takes turns stirring the risotto.

1 butternut squash (2 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
2 ounces pancetta, diced
1/2 cup minced shallots (2 large)
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice (10 ounces)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Peel the butternut squash, remove the seeds, and cut it into 3/4-inch cubes. You should have about 6 cups. Place the squash on a sheet pan and toss it with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, tossing once, until very tender. Set aside. Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock in a small covered saucepan. Leave it on low heat to simmer.

In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the pancetta and shallots on medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until the shallots are translucent but not browned. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with butter. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add 2 full ladles of stock to the rice plus the saffron, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir, and simmer until the stock is absorbed, 5 to 10 minutes. Continue to add the stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring every few minutes. Each time, cook until the mixture seems a little dry, then add more stock. Continue until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente, about 30 minutes total. Off the heat, add the roasted squash cubes and Parmesan cheese. Mix well and serve.

*Marcella Hazan advises that correct heat is important in making risotto. It should be “lively”; too high heat and the grains don’t cook evenly, and too low heat will result in a gluey mess. It should cook in 30 minutes. After the first try, you’ll get the idea.

*Saffron is collected from the stamens of crocuses, which is why it’s so expensive. Use the strands, not the powder.

*Pancetta is Italian bacon. If you can’t find it, use any good-quality bacon.

Serves 4 to 6

Chicken Noodle Soup

5 Dec

Recipe source: Barefoot Contessa Family Style

Ina Garten Week

“I’d like to think that when I invite friends to my house, they know what I’m *really* saying is ‘I love you; come for dinner.'” -Ina Garten

Welcome to Day 1 of Ina Garten Week! As I was skimming through this book, I noticed Ina included a lot of classic recipes that might seem simple or “everyday” to be publishing in a cookbook. And yet, I’ve never made a lot of them. Today’s post is one such example – homemade chicken noodle soup. (Jump to recipe) Not only have I not made it, I’ve never made my own chicken stock, which really is a fundamental of cooking.

With a slight wince, this realization made me think of an episode of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares. He was observing two young, untrained chefs who were making a lot of ultra fancy, high-end food (the kind in little towers on big plates with a balsamic drizzle…), but they didn’t really know much about the basics. One had never shopped for meat before, and both failed a blind taste test to distinguish the difference between beef and pork. Ouch. Finally, Gordon asked them make him an omelet, the first thing they would have learned in cooking school. One said, “I’ve never made an omelet before.” With his classic incredulous look and best sneering British accent, Gordon said, “Oh, don’t be steew-pid!”

So, here goes. I am going to de-stupid myself with a few recipes in this book, starting with chicken noodle soup.

Making homemade chicken stock

From what I can tell, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to making a stock. The basics are, throw some chicken, vegetables, and seasonings into a large pot, cover with cold water, turn on the heat and let it cook until you think it’s ready.

My inspiration for making my own stock came from a knife skills class we took for my birthday. The instructor taught us to save all our vegetable scraps in a bowl when preparing our mis en place for any recipe – including onion skins, carrot peels, celery stems, garlic heels, herb trimmings, and any other vegetable we find flavorful. (A trio of carrots, onions, and celery is the basis for most soups and stocks, and is called a mirepoix.) Freeze these in large Ziploc bags, and before you know it, you’ll be ready to make a stock. I have also started freezing my veggies just before they turn, if I can tell I won’t have the time or energy to cook with them. I hate throwing away food, and this habit has been a relief to my conscience! Sometimes life just gets in the way after I do my grocery shopping… and unless you’re Martha Stewart or June Cleaver, I imagine you can relate. 🙂

chicken

If you’re making a chicken stock, there are a few options. You can use a storebought rotisserie chicken, as this article suggests, or use the scrap bones, skin, and innards from a bird you’ve carved yourself. I did the latter, after spontaneously deciding to buy and de-bone three whole chickens one night, with nothing more than an online video to guide me. I’m pretty sure I did it wrong, but it was a surprisingly empowering experience!

I was also excited to finally unearth this beautiful Williams-Sonoma pot my mother gave me, which has been sitting for years in its box. This was the perfect pot for making a stock – 8 quarts, with an inner pot for straining pasta, or in this case, chicken and veggies. If you don’t have a pot like this, you can line your pot with cheesecloth to making straining easier.

So to begin, add your chicken, veggies, herbs, salt and pepper into your stock pot, cover with cold water, and bring to a slow boil. Turn heat down to medium and simmer for a few hours, taste-testing as you go, until the stock is flavorful. You will want to skim the chicken’s white fat from the surface periodically. How concentrated you make the stock is a matter of personal preference, but if it is strong, always remember you can water it down later.

To store, you can strain the stock into several Tupperware containers, freeze, then transfer to gallon-size freezer bags until needed. Ice cube trays can also be handy for freezing small amounts of stock. One thing I learned – as the stock cools, a layer of fat will rise to the surface. It is easier to skim this off while the stock is still liquid, so let the stock cool at room temp or in the fridge, if possible. I made my stock at night and wanted to sleep, so it cooled in the freezer. It was slightly more difficult to scrape the fat off the frozen stock.

Making chicken noodle soup

I hope the above doesn’t sound intimidating, because it’s really not, and it’s so worthwhile. After years of fighting with nasty bouillon cubes that would never dissolve and were undoubtedly filled with sodium and preservatives, I smelled my homemade stock and it smelled like chicken noodle soup all by itself! So warm and comforting, I had forgotten what that smell was like. And once you’ve made your stock, the rest of the soup is a breeze.

In a large pot, warm two quarts of chicken stock, then add carrots, celery, and wide egg noodles. I used “No Yolks” brand egg noodles in my recipe, as they have no added cholesterol. In the ten minutes these are cooking, you can prepare your chicken.

Ina Garten suggests roasting a bone-in, skin-on chicken breast, but frankly, I don’t see the point. Finding bone-in, skin-on chicken breast can be difficult, and it’s easy to over-roast and dry out your chicken in the oven. My preferred method is to filet a boneless, skinless breast, sprinkle with salt and pepper, cook through in a pan with a little oil over medium heat, then pull with a fork along the natural lines of the breast to shred. It will look like this.

Once the noodles are fully cooked, add the cooked chicken and parley to the pot and heat through. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and serve up a big bowl of this comforting goodness!

RECIPE – Chicken Noodle Soup

Forget canned soup – this is the real thing. And wouldn’t we all feel better after eating a bowl? I love having homemade chicken stock in the freezer so I can make this soup in a hurry.

1 whole (2 split) chicken breast, bone in, skin on
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 quarts homemade chicken stock
1 cup medium-diced celery (2 stalks)
1 cup medium-diced carrots (3 carrots)
2 cups wide egg noodles
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the chicken breast on a sheet pan and rub the skin with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until cooked through. When cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones, discard the skin, and shred or dice the chicken meat.

Bring the chicken stock to a simmer in a large pot and add the celery, carrots, and noodles. Simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes, until the noodles are cooked. Add the cooked chicken meat and parsley and heat through.

Season to taste and serve.

Serves 6